Follow the money: SMI ad spend data shows growth in digital and decline in traditional channels

  • Media
  • January 15, 2016
  • Damien Venuto
Follow the money: SMI ad spend data shows growth in digital and decline in traditional channels

SMI’s most recent data on media agency ad spend between July and November again reiterated how valuable hosting the Rugby World Cup was to the industry in 2011. While the November figures for 2015 were at a record high, the full-year figures for last year were still below the amount the industry spent when the tournament took place on local shores.

Overall, New Zealand advertisers spent $419 million between July and November in 2015, up from the $405 million spent a year earlier but down on the $423 million spent in 2011.

SMI's general manager for Australia and New Zealand Jane Schulze says it is to be expected for the numbers recorded in 2011 to be higher than those recorded this year, given that many advertisers would've increased their spend in order to capitalise on the influx of tourists arriving in New Zealand to watch the event just over four years ago. 

Schulze says New Zealand had a very strong start to 2015, but that ad spend dipped between the months of April and July before picking up again at the end of the year.

She says the reason for the uptick in ad spend during the latter part of the year could be because advertisers had shifted some of their ad spend to coincide with the Rugby World Cup—and this certainly makes sense, given that the biggest spikes during this period came from the travel and food categories. 

"The airlines, travel agent and travel website category increased by 39 percent or 30.9 million between July and November last year, while food produce and dairy increased by 13.7 percent or $24.8 million," she says.

Despite the $13 million lift in overall ad spend, all the traditional channels except for 'outdoor' and 'other' dipped from the previous year (predictably, magazines and newspapers suffered the biggest declines in spend).  

However, it is worth noting that SMI's data released only takes into account spend made directly through media agencies, which means direct sales are excluded. And while the numbers certainly do provide a strong indication how the media agencies are distributing their clients' spend, many publishers are also selling advertising—through branded content deals and through their direct sales teams—directly to some of their clients. 

Schulze also says that the SMI data does not take into account smaller businesses that do not sell their advertising through media agencies.

"The data doesn't take mum and dad advertisers into account," she says.

When SMI launched in the local market in 2013, it positioned itself as a more accurate alternative to Nielsen. And Schulze says the research company has already picked up numerous New Zealand-based clients since its arrival in this market, but she added the company has policy of not revealing who they are.  


Accuracy is king in the research industry, and Schulze says SMI is committed to providing the most accurate data it can. She says SMI has invested significantly in improving its reporting methodologies.

"We've added eight new product categories and we now provide better granularity than we did before," she says. 

She also explains that SMI has also had to rethink its its approach to recording digital advertising due to the shift in the way that it's sold. 

"Three years ago, digital was sold on a cost per thousand basis, but this has been changed to a performance-based approach, which means digital ad spend is now sold as a cost per click, cost per acquisition or cost per impression."

She says that this means that SMI often delays the release of monthly data in order to ensure that the number recorded is a true reflection of what the advertiser actually spent on a digital campaign after the campaign results have been analysed. 

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Whittaker's divides the court of public opinion – but all for a good cause

  • Advertising
  • February 22, 2019
  • Caitlin Salter
Whittaker's divides the court of public opinion – but all for a good cause

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